Potentially making more money in a longer-term free-agent contract took a back seat to loyalty to the White Sox for Jake Peavy.
That’s why the Sox made their first contract offer to Peavy on Oct. 8, five days after the season ended. And that’s why Peavy joined fellow starter Gavin Floyd in returning to the South Side on Tuesday via a two-year contract with an option for 2015.
“I never wanted to play any games,” Peavy said in a teleconference Tuesday night. “My desire to stay with Chicago, I was open and upfront with that in hopes it would work out.
“We certainly knew those (free-agent) options were out there. The loyalty, the way I feel about the White Sox organization…I just can’t say enough how strongly I feel about the city of Chicago and the fan base that stood behind me through some rough years with injury.”
Meanwhile, the Sox declined options on third baseman Kevin Youkilis and reliever Brett Myers, two of the three big-name mid-season acquisitions by former general manager Kenny Williams.
Williams successor Rick Hahn insisted Tuesday he’s still interested in bringing back Youkilis, Myers and fellow free agent A.J. Pierzynski amid the trio fielding free-agent offers.
Peavy will earn $14.5 million per year in 2013 and 2014. The Sox had a $22 million option, which they would not have picked up anyway, for 2013.
If Peavy reaches certain innings-pitched thresholds in both upcoming seasons, he can extend the contract to $15 million for 2015. He also will receive a $4 million buyout payment due under the terms of his previous contract, spread in equal installments between 2016 and 2019.
Healthy all season, Peavy overall pitched better than his 11-12 record and 3.37 indicated. However, the one blemish was six losses in the second half to Sox nemeses the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals.
Floyd, who was 12-11 with a 4.29 ERA in 2012, will receive a base salary of $9.5 million next season.
The 2013 Sox rotation is almost set — given a successful shoulder surgery rehab of lefty John Danks — even before the formal onset of free agency Saturday.
"He gives you somewhere in the vicinity of 180, 190 innings, and above the league average in ERA, in a difficult ballpark to pitch in, in the American League," Hahn said. "That has a lot of value. It's not so easy to find on the open market."
Peavy, Floyd and Danks will join 17-game winner Chris Sale for a strong Front Four. Second-year lefties Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago project for a spring-training pitch-off for the last remaining spot.
However, either Quintana or Santiago could be marketable in trades to fill potential Sox holes at third or catcher, if Youkilis and A.J. Pierzynski sign elsewhere.
“It gives us very good depth in our starting rotation,” Hahn said. “It allows us to explore some other opportunities over the next few months.”
Hahn certainly can hang onto Quintana and Santiago as insurance in case Danks isn’t ready by Opening Day. So far, Danks is “hitting all the milestones” in his rehab, Hahn said.